This is a guest post by devoted Cubs fan JP Hochbaum. Read his last post “Projecting Cubs 2015 Lineup” by clicking here.
The current crop of pitchers at the major league and minor league levels make it hard to predict who could be here come 2015 because there isn’t much talent there, at least that could be called up anytime soon.
With the current starting staff of Samardzija, Garza, Wood, and the bunch that keeps getting rotated from Triple-A and the major league team, I see only Samardzija as the only likely starter still around in 2015, so I am going to slate him as the ace of our 2015 team.
Sorting out the rest from our minor league system is tough, and there isn’t a starter that cracks most top 100 prospects, assuming that Arodys Viscaino becomes a late inning guy. But because the team is really thin in starting the Cubs may try to turn him into a starter, and so for the sake of making this projection look better I am going to put Viscaino as the No.2 starter, which is what many scouts consider as his ceiling.
Of the remaining prospects in their system there’s a list of possible starters and relievers to sort out from: Pierce Johnson, this year’s 1st round sandwich pick, Dillon Maples, possible top of the rotation guy, Duane Underwood, this year’s 2nd round pick, Trey McNutt, whose stock is falling, Robert Whitenack, probably a reliever, Ben Wells, projected as a No.3, Juan Carlos Paniagua, amazing fastball and little known about him (could be a sketchy character), Nick Struck, could be called up next year, Erik Jokisch, pitching great for Tennessee Smokies, Austin Kirk, doesn’t strike out enough people.
What makes this crop weak is that few of them have pitched long enough in the minors to know enough about them. The guys in the top levels of the minors Mcnutt, Struck and Jokisch make the safest bets to be here when it comes to the 2015 team, simply because the other top of the rotation guys like Wells, Paniagua, Maples, Underwood, and Johnson just have too small of a sample size to judge them.
What makes the Cubs strong is that they are collecting up-side depth in pitching, meaning they are collecting guys with high ceilings who could move through the system fast. And by fast I mean no sooner than 2014 is likely.
That being said, all this guessing makes projecting very difficult, and so I am going to just sort out the guys of where they are projected to pitch in the rotation.
- Potential No.1 starters: Samardzija, Pierce Johnson, Juan Carlos Paniagua
- Potential No.2 starters: Duane Underwood, Viscaino, Dillon Maples
- Potential No.3 starters: Ben Wells, Nick Struck, Paul Blackburn
- Potential No.4 starters: Erik Jokisch
- Potential No.5 starters: Austin Kirk,
- Robert Whiteneck,
- Tony Zich,
- Alberto Cabrera,
- Viscaino (if the high level guys make the team in 2015)
As you can see they are deep at the top, but these guys won’t be here until much later and 2015 could be a stretch for seeing them, but I am assuming that the Cubs move them through the system fast to do so. The hope is that most of these top of the level rotation guys pan out and could fill in the 4th, and 5th starter spots.